31 Jan 2016

January in numbers

16th: the day we moved into our flat. January has v.much been about the flat - packing, moving, unpacking, settling in, (slowly) buying things we need.

½ pints: my preferred beverage of choice. Dry January was (and is) never an option. Half pints however, are the way forward - 4 on a week night is my limit these days. It probably works out more expensive than buying pints but I think my liver is happier with me!

10: the number of nights my friend from America came to stay. Four days after we moved in Alex arrived to a rather higgledy-piggledy mess of a flat but we made it work. He cooked for us, baked for us and even made us coasters!

5,000: the average number a worker bees you'll find in a hive in winter. Mitch and I have started a bee-keeping course this month. There's only been two sessions so far but we've learned A LOT about bees and I can tell you: they are amazing creatures.

10hrs: the entire series of Making A Murderer watched in 3 sittings in the space of 6 days (one evening we watched 6 in a row - gah, was I stressed and mad after that).

-2℃:the coldest it's been this month. It might sound weird but I quite enjoyed that spell of frosty mornings, what can I say, I like my Januarys sunny and cold.

24 Jan 2016

Seed stitch scarf

I'd been wanting a mustard coloured scarf for aaaages and, having completed the more challenging (and time consuming) task of knitting a jumper, I decided to treat myself to nice simple scarf. It's true, I'm a little obsessed with moss and seed stitch (used here and here) but whatevs, I think it's pretty.

I used a chunky wool which was part alpaca and thus incredibly soft. It turned out exactly as I'd imagined it, took no time at all to knit and I've worn it every day since I finished it, so yeah, a very successful make in my books :) 

Although I just bemoaned the jumper knitting I'm v.tempted to start another...I had a dream recently where I was wearing a navy one with burgundy raglan sleeves and now that's all I can think about! I've not started anything new since completing the scarf - all my stuff is in boxes and I've no idea where anything is - but watch this space, those boxes have gotta be unpacked sooner rather than later.

18 Jan 2016

a photo an hour (ish) #5

I've not managed to do one of these successfully (ie remembered to take more than three pics at hourly intervals) for a year and a half! But, this Saturday, the day Mitch and I moved into our flat, I did! Here's how it played out...

6:30 - got up to brush my teeth. I'd actually been awake from about 5am (feeling anxious and excited about the move) but had hoped to fall asleep again, no such luck.

7:30 - last look at the view from our bedroom (I'm actually going to miss this).

8:30 - loading the van. It was a bit of a tight squeeze in the end!

9:30 - setting off (my parents car was pretty full too :/ )

There's no pic for 10:30 as we were in the midst of moving all our stuff from the van to our 3rd floor flat - SO glad there's a lift!

11:30 - move complete! (I have no idea how we've come to have so much stuff.)

12:30 - a well deserved cup of tea and cream cheese + salmon bagel in The Pelican with our friends who came to help.

13:30 - chilling out on the mattress in our bedroom.

There's no picture for 14:30 as that "chilling out" became a snooze.

15:30 - a walk in Burgess Park with some friends who happened to be in the area.

16:30 - the walk ended up being a stroll to Borough Market.

There's no picture for 17:30 as I was busy stuffing my little face in a pub by the riverside not far from Borough Market.

18:30 - all the bikes at London Bridge station. We got the train back home, I couldn't face the walk.

I forgot to take a picture at 19:30, thanks to some slug drama. We'd brought a few of our plants with us with the intention to keep them going. Unfortunately a load of mini slugs had come along for the ride. After some Wikipedia reading I was pretty freaked out (slugs are hermaphrodites and lay 30 eggs at a time just three days after mating!). Having experienced what it's like to have mice I didn't want to risk having slugs in our brand new flat so, we ditched the plants. I realise this sounds like an overreaction as slugs are essentially harmless but they're a bit a nemesis for gardeners - the little ones we found had already demolished one of our fledgling chilli plants :( It's not all bad though, we've got more seeds for herbs and chillies, plus we also saved the tops of our tomato plants so hopefully they'll sprout some roots and we can plant them again.

20:30 - we started unpacking the boxes, this was one of the first things to be extracted - small steps.

21:30 - Catching up on Serial S2 before bed.

It was one hell of a long day but amazing none the less. I still don't think it's really sunk in yet that this is our home, we probably need to unpack a few more boxes! 

9 Jan 2016

ideas for the new year

It's already the 9th January which means I've had more than a whole extra week to think about some resolutions *shudders* for 2016. Funnily enough, I don't have any! Damned if I'm going to be held to ransom the entire year by a few poorly chosen "resolutions" decided upon in the most depressing week of the year! However, what I do have are some loose ideas (sort-of-plans, sort-of-goals) for the year ahead. Behold...

 Enjoy living in my flat :)
Seeing as my top priority last January was to move out of my parents' house and buy a flat, THIS year my priority is to have a bloody good time in said flat. Mitch and I will have spent just over 20 months living in my parents' loft conversion (we're still there but moving day is imminent!!!) and I believe we deserve to be happy (and smug) about our first ever home together. Flat enjoyment ideas include: having people round for dinner, people to stay, painting the walls, putting up artwork (this is particularly exciting as having only ever lived in rented accommodation I've never been able to hang up anything on the walls!), making cushions (and, who am I kidding, a whole ton of other craft related home projects), sitting around watching TV in our pjs all day on weekends if we want to - oh-em-gee, I cannot wait!

 Start learning to drive
So, this is quite a big one. I am 28, v.soon to be 29, and I can't drive. I've never even driven a car for practice (Legoland cars don't count apparently). I've been realistic and gone for start learning to drive as opposed to be able to drive. I'm not stupid, I know lessons cost the earth and I'm going to need to start saving before I book any lessons. And in order to start saving properly I'm going to need to...

 Get a handle on my finances
This kind of speaks for itself but now that I have a mortgage (and a few other adult things like contents insurance) to think about, it's high time I got my self in order. Ideas include: Mitch and I getting a proper joint bank account, instigating a filing system for all the correspondence related to the flat (I recently mislaid an important document connected to the sofa we bought - it was enough to make me panic), I might even need to think about earning some more money...possibly some more freelance work or maybe something new altogether, who knows!

 Make stuff
As I mentioned in my last post, 2015 was a productive year in terms of my craft hobbies and I aim to keep this up! Some ideas: I've got a new sofa (and hopefully some stools!) that'll warrant cushions; I might also have another go at weaving on a bigger scale; I got a screen printing kit last christmas which I really want to try this year; I want to have a (proper) attempt at knitting socks - I've got the DPNs but all the patterns I've seen (even for beginners) look so very complicated, I think it might be of those situations when I'll just have to start and hope it becomes clearer as I go...

 Be nice to my body
I'm talking exercise, diet, body confidence and everything else in between. I wouldn't say I dislike the way I look (it took many years to get around to that way of thinking) but every now and again I see a picture of myself or I stand in front of the mirror and I think 'yeeeesh lady, you gotta make some changes'. Sometimes it's an unflattering angle, sometimes I'm in a mood but mostly it's because I think I'm making it hard for my body to be the best body it can. A v.meaty diet and a distinct lack of exercise over the last year has definitely been the root of the problem. So, some ideas for being kinder to my body: go to the gym twice (and maybe even three times) a week; reduce portion sizes (I don't have a bad diet but I do eat much too much); go running with Becky (when Mitch and I move into Peckham, my friend will be living a mere 10 minutes away!); less meat, more veg - ideally it'd be good to go back to only eating fish at home but we'll see what Mitch thinks; treat myself to a haircut (it does wonders for my confidence); cut down on takeaways; go swimming - it's a great form of exercise but I hate wearing a swimming costume (I feel so exposed!). However, there is a pool v.near us and Mitch said he'd come with me, so I've got no excuse.

 Travel! (but more specifically: visit more of the UK's cities)
There's SO much of the UK I haven't been to, it's actually quite embarrassing. 2015 seemed to be all about seeing the green spaces but I'd like 2016 to be about visiting this country's great cities. Places to see: Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Oxford, Bristol, Cardiff, Blackpool and (although it's not a city) Whitby. I also really fancy a trip to Northumberland. I do hope to get out of the UK at least a couple of times this year, Helsinki is in the planning stages and we might do a summer holiday, although nothing is set in stone.

So there you have it, my ideas for the year, nothing too demanding or unattainable, just some nice things to keep in mind for the next 12 months :)

2 Jan 2016

2015: in review

I'm not going to lie, I was quite happy to see the back of 2015. Although it was eventful, it wasn't plain sailing in the slightest. Hard-going would best describe it.

Back in January I made a very unspecific list of things I wanted to achieve throughout the year and, despite my putting a bit of a downer on 2015, I have actually done pretty well (funny how things work out eh?!). So, as I love a good review, let's break it all down shall we...

The big goal of 2015 was to move out of my parents house and buy our own flat. Oh my god, the stress of buying property was something I couldn't have conceived. Naively writing about how scary mortgages are, back in January I had no bloody clue about the months of frustration and stress quietly simmering away at the back of mind and pit of my stomach. But, raised blood pressure and extra grey hairs aside, there IS a happy ending to this: we officially became homeowners on Dec 4th :D We've not moved out of my parents' house yet (the flat is lacking a few crucial elements such as a fridge and washing machine) but the move is imminent (two weeks time if everything goes to plan)!

★ Career - if you're a long time reader you're probably already aware how absolutely miserable I was during my four months of unemployment. It was shit. The shittest, in fact. The joblessness played a starring role in why 2015 was a tough one for me, but... This has a positive ending too because I found employment with a charity and I now work with the nicest bunch of people a gal could ask for. Sure, the money ain't great and the work itself is pretty boring but, rather fortuitously, at the end of 2015 I got some freelance sewing work which'll help with the extra money and interest that my office job can't provide. Like I said, it's funny how things work out.

★ Health - badminton games became a regular occurrence throughout my unemployment but, as soon as I started my job, regular exercise (and having any kind of self control when it came to crisps and chocolate consumption) fell by the wayside. It took quite some time for me to settle in, figure out my routine and it wasn't until the end of September that I finally joined the gym. The last few months have been great - I go to the gym twice a week and I've been gradually shrinking my portion sizes. Just before Christmas I felt pretty good, the best I'd felt in aaaages to tell the truth. Of course the festive period arrived and now I feel over-fed, over-tired and very squishy around the middle. But that's ok, I'm ready to stop eating all the biscuits and get back on that elliptical machinecome Monday.

★ Travel - I did extremely well in this department. Continuing the trend that started last year, 2015 saw a lot of long weekends away around the UK: Dorset, Shropshire, the Isle of Skye, Yorkshire dales, Brighton for our anniversary and most recently, the Brecon Beacons. My passport also got some use this year what with our amazing holiday to Iceland, a few days in Slovakia and the week long road trip along the west coast of Ireland (which I still need to post the pictures from...it's super late but I really want to share as I've got lots to reccommend)! I think 2015 will take some beating travel-wise and, what with having just bought a flat, I don't think 2016 will be a big holiday year for us but who knows!

★ Making - I'd say it was a productive year, a bit of crochet, a bit of design, a bit of knitting. I tried weaving for the first time and although I didn't get around to using my printing kit, I DID some rather successful dressmaking, a dress but more importantly tops (something I'd been sorely lacking). Both the Bess and Zippy tees are great patterns, which I've recreated more than once (and will continue to do I'm sure)! Although I probably did more sewing than anything this year, I'm particularly proud of my jumper, the most labour intensive project of 2015 but so so worth it.

I mentioned that this was a tough year, particularly for Mitch's side of the family. In October, his uncle passed away - what I'd call a character, incredibly warm and welcoming, very chatty, loved his tea and always had interesting stories to tell. I was lucky enough to have met him a number of times, including when we stayed with him and his wife in Germany. He died before his time and, in a way, quite suddenly. We'd known he was sick but the truth of how bad it was wasn't really shared. I have great memories of him and, more importantly, so does Mitch.

This was also the year Moriarty passed on and I still miss that little guy one hellava lot. Ah le sigh. I've been contenting myself by looking at all the cute furballs on instagram, thankfully there's lots. Fortunately/unfortunately our new flat doesn't allow pets (not that that's stopped us before) but I think it'll be awhile before we get another. Mitch is holding out for a dog but of course we'd need a garden for that!

And speaking of gardens, 2015 was the year we whole heartedly threw ourselves into growing our own veg. It was a fantastic experience and, not to toot our own horns, but our hard graft really paid off. Gardening definitely became a new favorite hobby this past year. Sadly our flat doesn't come with a garden but we're hoping we'll be able to keep a few herbs on the balcony.

I guess this overview paints it in a rather good light but it's been a year of stops and starts, incredible highs and emotional lows. Through it all, my friends and family have been there, a constant source of support, advice and, when I needed it, the perfect distraction from the stressful stuff that gets blown way out of proportion (and there was a lot of that stuff this year). Mitch is obviously included in that catchment of friends and family but he gets a special mention because he's had to put up with A LOT. I know he's my husband and it's expected that he'll support me in anyway he can but damn, that guy goes above and beyond :) We've had some bloody amazing adventures last year (Iceland being perhaps my favourite) and I cannot wait to begin our next!

So, thanks 2015, you were a bit of a test, but we're out the otherside and all I've got are positive vibes for the year ahead :)

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